Valley Center CERT  Valley Center ARC



Procedure for Obtaining Your HAM License

General Information: There are three levels of Amateur radio (HAM) licensure. You must pass each level to progress to the next license level. (Please note: THERE IS NO LONGER A MORSE CODE REQUIREMENT!) The levels are as follows:

Technician: the first level is the most basic. The vast majority of licensed HAM radio operators only obtain this level. Most emergency communications are conducted which only requires the Technician level. This level allows the operator to transmit on the VHF (Very High Frequency) and UHF (Ultra High Frequency) bands as well as limited access to the HF (High Frequency) bands. This license exam has a very large percentage of rules and regulations with minimal electronic theory.

General: the second level allows all operation allowed by Technician and includes transmitting in most areas of the HF bands. This level exam still has considerable rules and regulations, but also contains more electronic theory than the Technician exam. Because the General license permits transmission on the HF bands this license holder can operate at far further distances and, thus, can use popular communication methods such as NVIS which requires lower frequencies (i.e., 40 and 80 meter bands).

Amateur Extra: the third and final level allows operation on all Amateur radio bands and all portions of them. It is the highest level obtainable, and the fewest number of HAM radio operators have obtained this level. Although the Amateur Extra exam does contain some rules and regulations the vast majority of exam questions pertain to electronic theory.

Things you will need BEFORE taking the exam:

Get Your FRN: You MUST obtain an FRN number from the FCC website. It can be obtained clicking HERE. Register on the FCC site if you have not registered before.

Now is the time to decide HOW you want to take the exam. There are three methods: traditional in-person paper exams, in-person electronic exams (uses, or fully online exam (also uses For the most part SANDARC (San Diego VEC) uses for the in-person exams and remote exams. Currently, no in-person traditional paper exams are given in San Diego.

For in-person electronic exams and fully remote exams:

In-person testing is done at the Escondido testing site on the fourth Saturday of each month. 

Online exams are done using Zoom.

You can register for an Escondido in-person test session by accessing the link here: Click the In-Person button and follow the directions for registration. You must register as walk-ins are not permitted. 

Escondido site:
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Stake Center
2255 Felicita Road
Escondido, CA
Exams begin at 9:00 AM
VE Team Leader: Jo Ashley KB6NMK   Session Manager: Martin Latterich AF5T

You will need to bring the following with you to the in-person test session:

1. Your FCC Registration Number (FRN) obtained as explained above, or the registration process will allow you to create one;

2. Several Number 2 sharpened pencils;

3. A government issued ID (driver's license, passport, etc.);

4. If you are upgrading your license a copy of your current Amateur Radio license;

If you want to register for a remote license exam using Zoom access the link here: Click the Remote button and follow the directions for registration.

You will need the following in order to conduct a Zoom remote exam:

1. Your FCC Registration Number (FRN) obtained as explained above, or the registration process will allow you to create one;

2. A government issued ID (driver's license, passport, etc.);

3. A reliable Zoom connection;

4. Clear audio and video performance maintained throughout the Zoom session;

5. Exam space video inspection;

6. Screen sharing in Zoom;


For in-person traditional paper exams:

1. Get the 605 Form: Next you will need to download and print the 605 form, fill out the upper portion, and take it with you to the exam session. You may download the 605 form by clicking HERE. Complete the form in BLACK ink. The form is also "fillable" on your computer. Your name on the 605 form must match EXACTLY as you entered it on the FCC site when you obtained your FRN number.

2. Study for the Exam: All of the questions on the exams are available in a "Question Pool" available from a number of sources. Click HERE to obtain the Question Pool and information on HAM classes and online study guides.

**VCARC occasionally conducts a Technician Licensure class. Please visit the Calendar of Upcoming Events page or e-mail us from the Contact Us page to find out when one of these classes are conducted. There is no cost for these classes. The exam is given at the end of the class.

3. Take the Exam: In San Diego there is no cost for taking the HAM radio examination. However, be sure to take the filled our 605 form and a photo ID (driver's license, for example) to the exam session. There is an exam session given somewhere in San Diego every Saturday. Usually, following a HAM radio class an exam session is conducted. These special exams may or may not be on a Saturday and are in addition to the regular Saturday exam sessions. You may click HERE to find the various exam sessions, times, etc.